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Cavalry called in, brawl erupts in Ambon

Violence in Maluku

spacer 22 November 2005 - Army soldiers and police officers were fought a pitched battle at dawn on Monday in Ambon city, leaving three civilians injured. The brawl broke out as a wedding reception was winding down into the wee hours in Nusaniwe district of the city.

· 22-11-2005: Cavalry called in, brawl erupts in Ambon

Of the over 2 million inhabitants of the Maluku islands or Moluccas, approximately 54% practice Islam and 44% practice Christianity. Through a traditional village alliance mechanism known as pela gandong, Christian and Muslim communities in the Maluku islands were able to resolve conflicts peacefully for many years. However, in the mid-1990s, transmigration and governmental restructuring changed the political dynamic and increased religious tensions.

25 April 2004 - Conflict began in Ambon between Christians and Muslims and quickly spread to the surrounding islands. The unexpected outbreak of violent clashes in 1999 resulted in thousands of people being killed while others fled to neighboring islands.
25 May 2004 · Bombing at Christian market in Ambon city kills one, wounds 13
24 May 2004 · Bomb in cookie jar explodes in edgy Ambon
04 May 2004 · Ambon talks end in disaray
04 May 2004 · Govt replaces Maluku police chief after bloody Muslim-Christian battles
02 May 2004 · More paramilitaries sent to troubled Ambon, toll rises to 38
01 May 2004 · 13 hurt as explosions rock Ambon
30 April 2004 · More injured as shots, explosions heard in Ambon
30 April 2004 · Embattled Christians in Maluku fear return of Jihad fighters
28 April 2004 · Clerics say Ambon disaster provoked
28 April 2004 · Ambon tense after arson attacks, toll 36

Background of the Conflict
For centuries, Malukans lived relatively peacefully, separated by choice or by custom in either Christian or Muslim villages. When disputes arose, the local rulers convened, and the belligerents attended a reconciliation ceremony where apologies were offered in front of village elders and religious leaders. The ensuing peace agreement was considered legally and religiously binding. The customs of (...)

The conflict itself
Tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities rose gradually in the decades since the 1950’s to the point where small differences could easily set off violence. The Asian financial crisis of 1997 effected morale and led to the inevitable desire for scapegoats. The fall of Suharto in May 1998 was accompanied by calls for redress of injustices and other inflammatory rhetoric. Furthermore, si (...)

Players in the conflict
From January 1999 to April 2000, Muslims and Christians fought locally largely on an equal basis. However, from April -June 2000 well-organized Muslims militias began to gain an upper hand, accompanied by the arrival in Maluku of the Java-based Laskar Jihad (the “army of holy war”), a radical and military-trained Muslim organization allegedly with sympathizers and arms s (...)

Impacts of the conflict
The conflict in Maluku has caused massive internal displacement – some people have fled out of fear, others because their homes and villages have been burnt to the ground. As of December 2000, over five thousand people had been killed in the Maluku conflict, and 500,000 displaced – roughly a quarter of the overall population. There have been no major clashes (...)

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